I used to have a boss. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him Brian. He wasn’t called Brian, but he wasn’t a bad guy and I’m about to do something of a character assassination on him. He deserves it for being a rubbish boss, but not for being a rubbish human. I mean, I don’t think he could ever be described as one of life’s winners (I’m not certain I could ever claim that with any conviction either, but in the league table of life, I would definitely place higher than poor Brian) and it would seem wrong to use his real name. Much like kicking a puppy is wrong. Even if they have just done something unpleasant on the carpet.
His heart was mostly in the right place.
Sadly, his brain rarely was.
I’ve had a lot of bosses I’ve hated more, but that was mostly because they were genuinely horrible people. Often, they were not too bad at their jobs though. Which made them reasonable bosses.
On balance I’d rather have a boss that I dislike personally but who is good at their job.
Poor Brian was bad at his job. So bad at his job that he didn’t hold onto it for very long.
In the interests of full disclosure, when Brian was asked to vacate his position, it was me that was asked to fill it. There was, however, no Machiavellian manoeuvring on my part. Brian’s downfall was of Brian’s own making. I didn’t really want the job to be honest. It wasn’t that good a job. But it was marginally better-paid than the job I had been doing so I agreed to step into his shoes temporarily, and then somehow ended up staying in those shoes for quite a while. They were, ultimately, not hard shoes to fill.
It may seem boastful to say that I did a much better job than Brian, but to be fair Brian was so bad at his job that a poorly trained monkey could have made a better fist of it. As a moderately well-trained monkey, it was quite easy for me.
I’m not saying I was anything other than adequate, but I was at least able to leave on my own terms when I did decide to move on.
Brian made mistakes that were just unfathomably stupid. And he did this multiple times a day.
And the trouble was, this was a role in which the lives of some pretty vulnerable children were affected. So, although he was more of a bumbling idiot than an evil despot, the results for these young people were still quite bleak as a result of some of his actions.
Therefore, Brian had to go.
But to give him his due, he did get one thing right.
In the toilets of the place we worked, he insisted on putting up a poster with some quite detailed instructions on how to wash your hands properly.
“Come on Brian,” his colleagues (including yours truly) protested, “that’s a bit over the top isn’t it? No-one’s about to carry out surgery. Surely we don’t need to be quite so explicit with the hand-washing message?”
But, in these troubled times, it’s now abundantly clear that Brian was entirely correct with regards his zealous attitude to hand-washing.
And I hope that wherever he is now, and whatever he’s doing, he can reflect on that fact with some satisfaction.